Inside the Episode: David Rudovsky

We had just a brief moment of awkwardness when David Rudovsky came to my office to record an episode on racial inequality in our criminal justice system.  I greeted him in the lobby of our office and we shook hands warmly.  “it’s a pleasure to meet you,” he said.  I laughed as I turned to walk him back to my office.  “I know you don’t remember this, but you were my Evidence prof at Penn Law!”

Maybe I was sitting too far in the back of the class?

Several weeks earlier, I had read an article about the United States Sentencing Commission releasing a new bit of research on the lengths of sentences handed out in the federal system.  Shockingly, the report found that blacks were given 19 percent longer sentences – for the same crimes – as whites. 

That was the germ of the idea for this episode.  I immediately emailed David and we made arrangements for him to come in to our studio.

David is the perfect person to speak on this important issue.  Racial inequality exists in our criminal justice at just about every step along the way through the process, and David speaks authoritatively about all there is.  Whether it’s how City police deploy resources inequitably in different neighborhoods or the way in wish the cash bail system powerfully disadvantages those in lower socio-economic groups and racial minorities; or how prosecutors decide which crimes to target and ways the law consciously or implicitly disfavors blacks versus whites, David has seen it in his illustrious career.

David is enormously accomplished as a civil rights attorney, along with his longtime partner David Kairys, with some five decades of practice in.  He is also widely respected as a teacher, lecturer and speaker, through his long association with the University of Pennsylvania Law School (from which I graduated a long time ago!)

And, as David told us after we wrapped up the episode, he is also now featured in a six-part Netflix documentary, Wormwood.  The show, which Stacey and I set to watching the same day David and I recorded this episode, tells the story of the death of CIA researcher Frank Olson in 1953 and his son’s epic quest to solve the mystery of his father’s death.  When Dr. Olson fell to his death from the 13th floor of a hotel in New York City, was it because of the LSD he had been given unwittingly as part of a CIA Cold War-era experiment?  Or was it something more sinister?  I won’t say more about that other than . . .yes, Watch it!

And please enjoy this episode with David Rudovsky.  And let me know what you think!   I always appreciate the feedback.


Listen to the full episode at: